Stand in the Place Where You Live

You get two Wild West Thursday posts this week, because I need to give you the background story for tomorrow’s post. (Don’t you feel lucky?!)

In recent years, I’ve become convinced that authors making connections with other authors is the wave of the future. With the rise of indie-publishing, it’s far easier for authors to share tips and techniques for marketing our books. In the past, it was easiest to talk about the writing itself, because of the expectations of traditional publishing. With traditional publishing, there is a pervasive idea that all authors are in competition with each other, for publication slots and favor from the house. I’m not sure I believe this is true – much less that it needs to be true – but publishers do actively encourage that perspective. I have walked around my publisher’s booksigning at RWA National, for example, admiring all the different covers and familiarizing myself with who writes for the house (and what the house’s focus seems to be) only to be confronted by the publisher herself, who asked if I was “checking out the competition.” This kind of comment is quite common and is the reinforcement of the notion that we are all fighting each other for survival.

In reality, of course, publishing decisions are made on the basis of money – i.e. sales revenue for a title, author or sub-genre – the house’s view of the future, and their vision of how to best address that future.

With indie publishing, that rhetoric has no source. There’s no one feeding the idea that we’re all duking it out with each other, and in fact, indie authors are the most generous group of authors in terms of sharing information and observations. It’s a wonderful change to be in this environment!

One of the things that has fallen out of this change for me is a new interest in fostering those connections between authors. I meet with a local group of romance writers each month, for example, which started because we weren’t always making the trek into Toronto for the Toronto RWA meeting and we missed chatting with other authors. We eat and talk and dish, and drink way too much coffee. I’ve talked here already about the networking event that those authors and I are putting together this April, an event that I hope becomes a regular occurrence.

I’ve also joined forced with a local librarian to establish a blog focused on local authors, regardless of genre. This started from her observation that there were so many authors in town, and my comment that I didn’t know any. We launched the blog in September and feature an interview per week with a local author (or an author who has a local connection). We built on this in December, by having our first event, co-hosted by the library, called Meet the Authors. We had thirteen authors come out to talk about their work and sell their books. The mix was so eclectic and the experiences so different. It was great. In January, we began with monthly events, focused on the publishing business. In February, our town was the focus of Open Book Ontario and many of our authors got some exposure from that site. (Including me and my desk.) It’s been such a lot of fun and not that much work, considering the rewards. I’ve really enjoyed meeting so many different authors who write so many different kinds of work. The blog is called Stratford Authors, you can check it out right here.

Tomorrow, I’ll tell you a bit about our most recent SA event.

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